Billa (2007 film)
Billa, is a Tamil language film directed by Vishnuvardhan, is a remake of the blockbuster 1981 film, Billa, though it borrows its key theme from the re-vamped Don starring Shahrukh Khan. The film is set to be released in India on November 30, 2007 and is set to be simultaneously released internationally.
The film stars Ajith Kumar, Nayanthara, Prabhu Ganesan, Rahman, Namitha and Rose Dawn in a guest appearance. 80% of the movie was shot in Malaysia, and was filmed around the tropical Langkawi island as well as the towering Petronas Twin Towers and the Jalan Masjid India area, which is the 'little India' of Kuala Lumpur.
In 2007, the drug trade is booming. The Malaysian Intelligence and Anti-Narcotic Department are called upon for assistance by their Indian counterparts. There are rumours that a drug gang has recently moved their headquarters to Kuala Lumpur.
The Indian team is headed by the DCP (Rahman) who wants to break the back of the drug operations of a drug lord. He believes that capturing the drug Lord's dangerous and elusive lieutenant, Billa, (Ajith Kumar), will be the most effective way of accomplishing this. Billa's gang consist of Narang (Santhanam) and Anita (Namitha). Soon, Roma (Nayanthara) joins them but she has other plans - kill Billa. Billa was responsible for killing her brother Ramesh as well as his fiancee, Kamini.
During a chase with the police the real Billa is critically injured and is captured by t he DSP. He keeps it a secret that he has captured Billa, even from his fellow officers, and tracks down a look-alike called Jeeva, a lowly singer (also played by Ajith Kumar). He asks Jeeva to infiltrate Billa's gang by pretending to be Billa. In return he will make sure that the child Jeeva found and adopted, Deepu gets a proper education. Meanwhile Jasjit who has just been released from prison sets out in search for his son, Deepu, and to get his revenge on the DSP who arrested him and prevented him from rescuing his wife and child from black mailers, this in turn killed his wife and left his son missing.
The DSP trains Jeeva and admits him in a hospital (in which Billa is also admitted and supposedly in coma) to surgically give him all the scars and birthmarks the real Billa has on his body. However Billa dies of heart failure suddenly in front of the DSP and the doctors, who are unable to save him. While Jeeva is infiltrating Billa's gang, the DSP is captured and killed in a fire blast; and Jeeva is forced to run from the police as well as Billa's gang members -- pursuing the last piece of evidence (a disc) which has all of Billa's criminal activities loaded on it, a disc which can get him out of this mess.
Through various plot twists, Jeeva recovers the disc. Eventually, it surfaces that the DSP is alive and is actually Vardhan, a notorious underground criminal with a grudge against the Drug Lord, Billa's boss, and eventually ends up killing him. Jeeva arranges a meeting with Vardhan and assists in his capture.
In a final twist, it emerges that the real Billa is still alive, and was pretending to be Jeeva who he killed and replaced while in the hospital. It was actually Jeeva who had died in the hospital of heart failure in front of Vardhan. In the end both Billa and his girlfriend Anita (Namitha) escape, bewildering the police and Roma.
Cast & Crew
CastFor Billa the original cast was to consisted of Rajini in 1980. Now Ajith Kumar is set to start in the remake of same film. Nayanthara and Namitha are all set to play the lead ladies in Billa such as Praveena and Sripriya did in the previous version. The film is well supported by the rest of the cast. Director Vishnuvardhan along with producers selected the appropriate cast for the film.
* Ajith Kumar as Billa: Director Vishnuvardhan first met Ajith on the set of Aalwar, where he appraoched him for a role in his new movie. In preparing for the role, Ajith got tips from Rajinikanth in order to perform with a suitable style. He also studied films such as Don and Billa.
* Ajith Kumar as Raja: In preparing for the role, Ajith got tips from Rajinikanth in order to perform with a suitable style. He also studied films such as Don and Billa. The role consisted of road dancing, so Ajith spend days preparing a look for this role
* Nayanthara as Roma : Nayanthara was approached very late by Vishnuvardhan afetr condiering many other heroines including some in Bollywood. Her role is to kill Billa, but then after learning that he is dead she falls in love with Raja.
* Namitha as : The girlfriend of Billa who is part of the drugs gang, she even rescues Raja in a way when removing the bullets from Nayanthara's pistol. She was a late call of for the film after Shriya and Reema Sen were considered for the role.
* Rose Dawn as :She plays Nayathara's sister in law but tragically dies i n the hands of the gangster Billa.
* Prabhu as DSP: The DSP who tracks down Billa and arrests him sending out an imposter by the name of Raja who looks exactly like Billa. Prabhu's call up was a huge boost for the film as his recent films Thamaraparani and Unnakum Ennakum have been huge hits from a supporting role.
* Rahman as Drug Lord: The Drug Lord is a corrupt drug dealer. He is the leader of Billa and at the end joins in the search for a diary or disc with the hidden information of the gang.
* Vishnuvardhan - Director,Screenplay,Dialogue,Script
* Salim Khan, Javed Akhtar - Story
* L.Suresh - Producer
* Yuvan Shankar Raja - Music
* Raju Sundaram - Choreography
* A. Sreekar Prasad - Editor
* Nirav Shah - Director of Photography
The Key ElementsThe film was launched initially with Ajith Kumar paired opposite Isha Sherwani, however she opted out of the project due to fully booked dates for her Hindi film, Dhee. After Isha's removal from the project other leading actresses such as Reema Sen and Nayanthara were approached for a key role in the film, they were still unclear of their confirmation into acting in the film.
Isha Sherwani was then roped in for a significant role in the film but however, 14 days after her confirmal she pulled out of the project citing differences with the director, Vishnuvardhan. The role offered to Isha Sherwani, was the role of a revenge seeking girl for the death of her brother, the role had a few songs and was the first heroine role. Reema Sen was overshadowed by other heroines in Kollywood as she was new to the industry. Isha Sherwani confirmed later to Kumudham magazine that she did not want to play second lead in the film, and opted out of the project. On February 19, 2007, the producers confirmed they had roped in Nayanthara to essay the role dropped by Isha Sherwani. Nayanthara will make her comeback in the Tamil film industry with the film. Nayanthara is being paid 90 Indian rupee lakhs for the project. Another heroine will join the sets once the shooting in the foreign locations have been completed, most likely by April, 2007. On February 23, Galatta.com came out with the news that Namitha is set to be the second heroine opposite Ajith Kumar. However other reports claim that the role rumoured to be done by Namitha is not confirmed.
Also previously, the film was set to be based in Malaysia, with scenes taken in Kuala Lampur, so far there has been no visa problems for most of the background staff. So shooting is set to go ahead after Ajith Kumar completes the shooting of Kireedam, the film is set to release by end of december.
Casting, location and music
After the official announcement of the production company, the director and the cameraman, Nirav Shah and Vishnuvardhan began to select other members of the cast and the crew to be a part of the Billa team, Ajith Kumar could not assist in helping choose the other members. For his crew, Vishnuvardhan picked his preferred technicians; with Sujatha as the dialogue writer, Nirav Shah as the cinematographer, Kanal Kannan as the stunt master, Thotta Tharani as the art director, Pa. Vijay as the chief lyricist and A. Sreekar Prasad as the editor. Vishnuvardhan's orthodox music composer, Yuvan Shankar Raja was chosen, creating great expectations for the project.
Prakash Raj was almost immediately selected to play a role in the film, after helping make Vishnuvardhan's last project, Pattiyal a success. The role of the comedian was tipped to go Vadivelu, after he received rave reviews for his comic chemistry in Chandramukhi with Rajinikanth, but however, despite the reviews, Vishnuvardhan's regular pattern meant that the spotlight for a comedian will be limited. Other reports claimed that popular Tamil actor, Srikanth was to act as the father of the children Ajith raises in the film but soon the story was denied. The leading lady of the film's selection took longer than it was expected. Isha Sherwani, who had been in contention to act in the last few movies of Ajith Kumar, was finally expected to be selected as she had owed a favour in return to Vishnuvardhan. However she rejected the offer at the time citing a lack of dates and the clashing of her other films schedules. Another actress, Reema Sen, was also considered and approved by Vishnuvardhan, but was already committed to other Bollywood films. Soon, another actress, was approached for the film, Asin Thottumkal but Vishnuvardhan decided to reject her as she had already paired with Ajith in his previous two films. Other famous actresses such as Shriya Saran; who had acted in the hit Mazhai, Trisha Krishnan, Banu and Pooja were considered but then rejected for the role of the heroine. In early 2007, Vishnuvardhan and Ajith announced officially that Nayanthara had been selected to essay the role as Ajith's's love interest.
Nayanthara was relatively new to Tamil cinema when she was selected for the role. Despite acting in over a dozen films in the Telugu language opposite big names such as Chiranjeevi, Mahesh Babu, Venkatesh and Akkineni Nagarjuna, she had only acted in four Tamil language films which were Ayya, in which she played a young role,Chandramukhi opposite Rajinikanth, Vallavan opposite Simbu and Kalvanin Kadhali opposite S. J. Suryah. Surprisingly, several television artistes were given other roles in the film. Vishnuvardhan and his crew opted for Prakashraj, Prabhu, Santhanam, Rose Dawn, Namitha as the second heroine.
DevelopmentBilla was made by many of the related same filmmakers involved in another Ajith Kumar starrer, Kireedam. In 2007 after Kireedam, L.Suresh revealed his interests in working with Vishnuvardhan again. The casting of the film was left to Vishnuvardhan and L.Suresh after Vishnuvardhan himself had finalized the story. He selected the title, Billa at first, hinting a possible remake of an episode of the Kollywood movie starring Super Star Rajinikanth, Billa, but he confirmed the rumours claiming it was a brand new script written for the modern generation. The original idea of the roles of Billa and Jeeva were written for Rajanikanth, in 1980, the praise from the yesteryear hit allowed this film to go ahead. After consideration, the roles of Billa and Jeeva finally were offered to Ajith Kumar, who was high on the success of Varalaru, produced by NIC Arts. Ajith Kumar accepted the offer in November 2006, ready to start the work after his, Kireedam was completed. Nayanthara who was yet to appear in a Tamil film after her split up with Simbu, signed up during the pre-production stages in January 2007. Namitha, who had worked with Vishnuvardhan in Pattiyal, was added to the project in March 2007.
The film's Puja, a popular trend in Indian movies, was held at the AVM Studios in Vadapalani, Chennai. Vishnuvardhan began Billa with a presentation different from his previous other films. A star-studded guest line-up arrived for the puja ceremonies held in March 2007. Vijay, Jayam Ravi and Rajinikanth all attended the ceremony as chief guests. Directors Ameer, Shankar, A. R. Murugadoss, R. C. Sakthi and many others made it a point to come to the function to check out the Tamil film puja in 2007. Actresses Nayanthara and Namitha lit the Kuthu Valakku, a flame holder, as Rajinikanth presented Vishnuvardhan with the clapboard for the movie. Actors Sivakumar, Surya, Karthik, Prabhu and Santhanam, were all in attendance as well. Nayanthara, Namitha, Ajith, Sujatha, Vishnuvardhan and just about anyone else associated with the shooting of the film, gave speeches on how the film was going on and the whereabouts and happening in the shoots.
Soundtrack & DVD
The film has songs composed by Yuvan Shankar Raja, two of which have been re-mixed from the original film, which had M. S. Viswanathan as the music composer:
* My Name is Billa - S. P. Balasubramaniam
* Vethialaya Pottendy - Malaysia Vasudevan
DVDThe DVD is set to released worldwide six months after the initial release of the film which looks set to be relesed on 30th November 2007.
Influences & Themes
Influences from Originalnfluences from Vishnuvardhan's other popular films like Pattiyal and Arinthum Ariyamalum have been noted. The use of the time-slice method in the film, as with The Matrix films and earlier used by Shankar in his film Anniyan, as well as the Farah Khan directed Main Hoon Na, proved popular with the audience. The Special Effects are to be provided by Big Freeze, a department based in London. Art Direction for the film was provided by Raju Sundaram. Vishnuvardhan has also gained experience from previous hits of recent times such as Don, Anniyan and even the Rajinikanth yesteryear starer Billa. The film as a whole shows Ajith in a double role. One of the roles as a don is influenced by the character of Shahrukh Khan in Don in 2006, Amitabh Bachan in Don in 1978 and Rajinikanth in Billa in 1980. The plot mirrors the Shahrukh Khan starrer exactly, and thus deviates from the original Amitabh Bachchan and Rajinikanth starrer versions.
Themes CoveredThe film covers many different themes within it like love, the love between Ajith (Billa) and Namitha at the start although the theme of love is dark as their business seems to be illegal and dangerous, the lovers seem to love the haste. Their love is true love, Namitha's is also true love as when Billa is found out to be dead she mourns for him and tells everyone that she still does love him, Billa eventually come back at the end showing devotion to his lover to escape from the police. Another issue within the story is revenge as Nayanthara is thought to be wanting revenge for the death of her brother by killing Billa, whilst pretending to be his friend. This is the Vendetta theme which is widely research throughout the film, the theme is also researched through the DSP as he wants to get rid of the Drug Lord, Billa's Boss by training Jeeva.
There are also many other assumptions and explorations that can be made into the film such as evil in the form of Billa, Drug Lord and the DSP. The evil involved the basic principles of killing for their own benefits and to make themselves happy as all three of the characters had done in the play. We can also talk about the demise of Jeeva as he died in a heart attack, this can be seen as good never wins, evils and the desire to kill proceeds through life.
Publicity & Release
PublicityThe publicity of the film was initially created when Vishnuvardhan picked Ajith to star in the movie and hence named the movie Billa. Permission and allowance was asked from the producers of the yesteryear film Billa starring Rajinikanth in the lead role. Later there was confirmation that Rajinikanth had personaaly told Ajith to attempt the challenge of remaking Billa. The trend in Kollywood in recent times is to remake yesteryear hits and this has been backed by Vishnuvardhan who confirmed that this will definitely be a modern day interpretation of the old Billa starring Rajinikanth, Sripriya and Praveena.
When the cast showed Nayanthara opposite Ajith, for Nayanthara fans it marked her return to fame in Kollywood. She had previously been involved in an affair with Simbu and when they parted ways, indecent photographs of them was produced which dented Nayanthara's image. But nonetheless she is a heroine very high up the pecking order in Kollywood and Tollywood. She has put her past behind and is back in Billa, the combination will be a new and different one with Ajith Kumar, whose fans much anticipate any release of their actor.
Namitha is the late arrival to the previous role of Praveena as Billa's girlfriend. The Ajith-Pooja partnership was talked about after Attagasam, which did well at the box office. However this partnership is new, yet exciting.
The film was launched on the 2007-04-20 by Rajinikanth at AVM studios. The film is to be shot extensively in Malaysia.
The release date of the film has been set as November 30. It will be Ajith's third and last film of the year.